Security experts at Kaspersky have observed an increase in the activity of the group of hackers politically motivated known as Gaza cybergang.
A group of hackers known as “Gaza cybergang” and “Gaza Hackers Team” has been targeting IT and Incident Response Team in the Mena (Middle East North Africa) area. The Gaza cybergang appears to be politically motivated and has been active since at least 2012, but it has intensified its activity in the Q2 2015.
According to the experts at Kaspersky that are monitoring the group, the hackers are targeting IT and IR staff to gather intelligence on the targeted organizations.
“IR people are also known for having access to sensitive data related to ongoing cyber investigations in their organizations, in addition to special access and permissions enabling them to hunt for malicious or suspicious activities on the network,” states a blog post. published by Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team.
According to researchers at Kaspersky, the Gaza cybergang focused its espionage activity on government entities, particularly embassies, in United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Yemen.
The hackers don’t use complicated malware to spy on victims’ machine, Kaspersky noticed they rely on common remote access Trojans (RATs) such as PoisonIvy and XtremeRAT. FireEye published a detailed analysis on the activity of the group in April 2013, the expert of the security firm called the operation “Molerats.”
The Gaza cybergang is targeting IT and IR teams by sending their staff malware disguised as common security software used by such personnel.
The hackers use malicious files having politics-related names written in Arabic, such as “Signs of a new dispute between the UAE and Saudi Arabia” and “Scandalous pictures of Egyptian militants, judges and consultants.”
The researchers believe that the Gaza cybergang also launched phishing campaigns from official-looking domain names (e.g. gov.uae.kim) in order to steal victims’ Google login credentials.
The experts tracked the Gaza cybergang since October 2012 when spotted a malware-based attack on the Israeli government and police force. Later the experts discovered a cyber espionage campaign targeting the Palestine and other government entities worldwide (i.e. United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Slovenia, Latvia, Macedonia, and New Zealand).
below some of the most interesting findings of the analysis made by Kaspersky on the Gaza cybergang:
Attackers take an interest in government entities, especially embassies, where security measures and IT operations might not be well established and reliable
Use of special file names, content and domain names (e.g. gov.uae.kim), has helped the group perform better social engineering to infect targets
Increasing interest in targeting IT and IR people, which is clear from most of the recent malware file names used
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.